Need for Speed – Porsche Unleashed

URL: http://www.needforspeed.com/porsche/pc/index.html

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Rating: Excellent!

Review:

This is the first driving program that has held my interest. This one is light years ahead of the previous Need for Speed series in graphics, performance and realism. I had previously tried the Formula 1 games and NASCAR — booring!!!

I am running a 800Mhz Pentium with 32Meg video, so I am not sure how much power you need for this game. I suspect that the CPU speed is not critical, but you will need at least 16Mb of video to keep from dropping too many frames.

You get 9 road courses in Europe, great graphics, dazzling scenery combined with realistic roads and conditions. You can run the courses backwards or in mirror image. Monte Carlo at night is especially impressive. It remains to be seen if additional road courses are made available as downloads or as expansion package.

The road courses are a good test of your driving skill. Low and high speed corners, decreasing radius turns, banked and reverse camber turns, it’s all there. You have a choice of several camera views, including “in car”, which shows driver, steering wheel, and accurate dashboard with working speedo and tach. The screen will also show how much car damage you accumulate on your off-road visits, and car performance will degrade as damage builds up.

The real piece de resistance is a “video” replay of your run when you have finished the course, showing the run from a variety of camera angles. You can run the replay at everything from 1/4 to 2x speed. Useful to improve your skills, or just laugh at your mistakes.

You can do solo runs, or race up to seven other Porsches. You may choose which model the competition drives. On your solo runs you can specify how much traffic is on the road. Oh yeah, you can choose your background music (or none). I can’t think of any tweaks they haven’t included.

Porsche unleashed comes with over a dozen models to drive, from 356s to 930s, plus monthly downloads of new models. April was the GT-2, May is the 959. I have driven the real thing from 356s to 930s, and most of the 911s. The vehicle dynamics are well captured in this program. You will find out how the early 911s were end-swapping bitches when driven hard. They even have the sounds right, including that “Volkswagonish” thump when you change gears in the 356. Change car colors, put the top down, and many other ways to personalize your favorite Porsche.

Then there is a little option on the start-up screen titled “Evolution”. For the first couple of weeks I assumed it was an overview of Porsche history. Not so — it is the coolest and most testing road racing contest you could imagine.

You start out in the “Classic” era, racing 356s on a variety of road courses. As you win races and purses, you are able to buy faster models,move up to early 911s and racing parts to tweak them. The courses, cars and competition get tougher and tougher. Place third or better in all the race series of the “Classic” era, and you move to the “Golden” era. Later models, more and tougher road courses, etc., etc. Success will bring you to the “Modern” era.

I’ve lost count of the cars you can race, and I think I’ve run close to 15 different courses. Exciting and challenging. If you think you don’t like race games, try this one! It’s well done and fun. You can do fine with a joystick, but it’s a little too much for a keypad.

Submitted by: OldRay

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